Britain’s Queen Elizabeth Concludes Celebration of Diamond Jubilee

Posted June 5th, 2012 at 8:25 am (UTC-5)
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Britain's Queen Elizabeth has attended a service of thanksgiving in London to begin the last day of celebrations marking her Diamond Jubilee.

Thousands of cheering Londoners waving British flags lined the streets Tuesday to cheer the 86-year-old monarch as she was driven from Buckingham Palace to St. Paul's Cathedral for the solemn service, joining her son, Prince Charles, her grandsons William and Harry, and other members of the royal family. But the queen was without her husband of 64 years, Prince Philip, who was hospitalized Monday with a bladder infection.

In his thanksgiving sermon, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said Queen Elizabeth had shown “a quality of joy in the happiness of others” during her 60 years on the throne.

The royal family will wrap up the Diamond Jubilee celebration with a balcony appearance at Buckingham Palace, followed by a rare television speech to the nation.

Queen Elizabeth lit a symbolic torch Monday night during a moving ceremony in which Prince Charles paid a personal tribute to his mother, and led the crowd in cheers to her and his ailing father.

The crowd sang the British anthem “God Save the Queen” before Elizabeth lit the beacon and fireworks exploded over Buckingham Palace.

The London beacon was the last of 4,200 torches and bonfires lit all day Monday across Britain and the Commonwealth, starting with New Zealand and Tonga.

Elizabeth succeeded her father, King George, after his death in 1952 and was coronated the following year.

She was crowned queen of seven Commonwealth countries — the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan and Ceylon, now known as Sri Lanka.

Along with Britain, the monarch is the head of state of 16 other nations, known as realms. Her role is purely ceremonial. She is also head of the Commonwealth, an organization that rose from the British empire. Most of its 53 member countries are former colonies.